When a product in the United States is considered to be organic and has passed all the tests related to organic produce, it receives a sticker that says USDA Organic. This sticker, issued only through the United States Department of Agriculture, certifies that the product is organic. It is impossible for a product to receive this certification without passing the strict guidelines put in place by the United States government.
Through the United States Department of Agriculture, organic is defined as products that are made in a method that preserves the environment and avoids synthetic materials including antibiotics and pesticides. To be certified, farmers must grow their crop and manage their livestock in a way that follows the standards of the USDA. Standards can include:
- Irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides and GMOs were not used in the process of growing the organic food.
- Producers must meet animal health and welfare standards. They cannot use antibiotics or growth hormones and animals must have access to the outdoors. The feed for the animals must also be 100 per cent organic.
- The product has 95 per cent or more certified organic content.
The USDA supports the organic trend because it preserves natural resources and the biodiversity of the country, while supporting animal health and welfare. It also supports it because organic food from livestock means that animals had access to the outdoors so they could exercise their regular and natural behaviours.
Organic is growing at a very fast rate in the United States. Currently, 25,000 farmers and ranchers get benefits from the organic certification, and they are part of a market that has reached $35 billion a year in sales.
The standards put in place by the USDA help ensure that the products you buy with an organic label on them are actually organic. That label is the best way to ensure what you are buying is truly organic and healthy for you and the environment.
Written by: Yehudith Girshberg